Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What I Learned At T-Mobile Store: Vibrant And HSPA+

I went to the T-Mobile store today to check out the Samsung Vibrant.  I'm still kind of on the fence about it.  But while I was there I thought I'd share a few things the employees there shared with me regarding HSPA+ and what T-Mobile has planned for it.

Right now, the HSPA+ network is still being built out and my neighborhood just got upgraded in the last month (which of course means nothing to you).  T-Mobile hopes to capitalize on the new network by offering data cards first for laptops where they can charge more for it.

Currently, there are no HSPA+ ready mobile devices.  As you probably know, the Vibrant isn't HSPA+ ready and the T-Mobile folks at the store aren't sure when the devices will be out to support it.  Well, as disappointed as I was, I really appreciate the  honesty.

Then I came across this Boy Genius Report post updating T-Mobile's HSPA+ plan for the rest of the year:

  • New "4G-like speed" network will cover 185 million users by the end of the year.
  • webConnect Rocket USB stick will get a broader roll out soon.
  • Dell Inspiron Mini 10 will be available in store so you can use it with the webConnect.  I'm not sure why this is a big deal.  Can't you use it with other laptops or netbooks?
  • Provided a list of cities that are currently HSPA+ ready.
As for myself, I really liked what I saw in the Vibrant and features and capabilities that I had the opportunity to play with.  I also asked the folks there about the battery life.  Now, they're there to make a sale so you'll have to take what they say with a grain of salt.  But they charge the Vibrant's battery overnight and it gets used and abused through the business hours by customers and it never needed an afternoon nap or anything like that.

If true, I'm impressed given what every is saying about Sprint's HTC EVO.  Oh, and the Vibrant took great pics and videos for a handset.  And playing "Avatar" on the 4" screen was absolutely incredible.  

I'm on a budget so I'm not going to go back in there until later in August at the very earliest.  Plus, I'm considering experiment going without wireless for a few months just to see how I adjust to a "normal" life.  But from ten to fifteen minutes I spent with the Vibrant, you can't go wrong with it.

Also, if you go on the Web to read reviews and hand-ons, you'll notice a lot of folks company about the lack of an LED flash for the camera and a frontal facing camera for video conferencing.  First, the vid chat.  There is no official Android protocol from Google for this feature.  Only Facetime from Apple works well from my experience.  Fring does not come close.  Vid chat is not going to take off for another year or two anyway.

But I can see the deal breaker being the lack of LED flash for the camera.  I don't understand the omission.  Other than that, the Vibrant lives up to its name.

More at BGR on the HSPA+ update.

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